Jeruto, Wambui lead charge in 800m final: 800m Duo keen to run tactical race in chase for medals

IAAF WORLD U18 CHAMPIONSHIPS KASARANI STADIUM Kenyan 800m Jackline Wambui(2nd R) and Ethiopian Hirut Meshesha(2nd L) lead the pack in the 800m semi-final during the IAAF World U18 Championships at Kasarani Stadium on Friday 14/07/17.[Boniface Okendo,Standard]

Rivals Ethiopia will once again provide stiff competition for local girls

The absence of the United States of America at this final edition of the IAAF World Under-18 Championships has given the host nation the tag of favourites in the 800m girls final as the teens' track and field contest comes to an end today.

The inspiring pair of Lydia Jeruto and Jackline Wambui will hope to prevail in a fierce battle against the stubborn Ethiopian Hirut Meshesha and for the first time, a non-African, Milena Korbut of Poland, who boasts a time of 2:06.98, the third fastest time after the Kenyan duo.

Lanky teenager Jeruto looked very confident in the semi-finals on Friday, winning the race in 2:10.47 en route to today’s final at 4pm.

Wambui will also be keen to show her compatriot that she is also ready to strike gold after also having a smooth sail into the finals as she controlled her semi-final race jogging across the line first in a time of 2:06.63.

Jeruto, a class seven pupil at Poror Primary School in Baringo County, said after semis qualification victory: “It was just a matter of making it to the final, I will run even a better race in the final.”

Meshesha of Ethiopia will be her country’s sole representative in the race. She finished in the runners-up position, timing 2:14.45 behind Wambui. Pole Milina Korbut, on the other hand, is another girl the Kenyans must contain and make sure she does not spoil the party.

If the local girls emerge triumphant in today’s evening action, they will have redeemed the title they lost in Cali, Colombia, in 2015 and Donetsk, Ukraine, in 2013.

Iceland’s Aníta Hinriksdottir was the Donetsk Championship gold medal while USA’s Samantha Watson topped the Cali event.

Meanwhile, it is a tricky thing to have your father as coach. Timo Northoff knows this, but at the same time there’s no one else he’d rather have guide his career, particularly now, after the young German claimed shot put gold.

“I think it’s the best training in the world because we understand each other,” he says. “My father was also a shot putter so I followed his way.”

His dad, Tilman, was the one who first coaxed Timo into the sport at age 13. “Back then I did everything,” recalls Timo, “long jump, sprints, shot put and discus.”

In those early years, however, his lack of size relative to his peers meant he did not show flashes of his vast potential. “I was really small and tiny at the start, but over the years with training I have developed,” he says.

When he had built that strong and stable frame in his mid-teens, he and his father soon realised his future lay in shot put.

His dad had been a combined-eventer for much of his career, but turned his attention to the shot put at the age of 30, eventually throwing his lifetime best of 19.02m at the age of 36. Many years later, he is still competing, but has had to face the inevitable in seeing his son out-perform him.

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